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Meghan McCain and the power of sisterhood

As women, we're on the same side. Let's act like it.

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Last week, conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham attacked Meghan McCain for speaking out about the Republicans' failure to relate to young people. Instead of meaningful debate, Ms. Ingraham belittled her younger counterpart (the daughter of Sen. John McCain), insulting her appearance.

It got me thinking: The 1960s gave us some great slogans. It was the decade of "black is beautiful." It was the era of "make love, not war." And most important for women, the '70s gave us "sisterhood is powerful." Sadly, this last slogan is also the least recognizable to women in 2009.

In 1975, the idea that women could effect real political and social change by listening to each other and by sticking together was electrifying. Today, it is almost unheard-of.

Instead of engaging Ms. McCain in a thoughtful dialogue, Ingraham tried to silence her by suggesting that she was too fat, too pretty and, above all, too young and inexperienced to be allowed to speak out the way she did.

It's unsurprising that older women are attacking younger women, or that they're using the tactics of middle-school queen bees to do it. After all, in our culture, women aren't taught to support other women. Older women, invisible in the mainstream media, have been told from infancy that they'll only be relevant as long as they're young and sexually attractive. As a result, they often see younger women as competition, dismissing and alienating them. Offended, younger women don't look up to older women as role models or mentors. In short, sisterhood isn't so powerful any more. And this has to change.

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